United States, (1879-1955)
Frogs Eat Butterflies, Snakes Eat Frogs, Hogs Eat Snakes, Men Eat Hogs
- It is true that the rivers went nosing like swine,
- Tugging at banks, until they seemed
- Bland belly-sounds in somnolent troughs,
- That the air was heavy with the breath of these swine,
- The breath of turgid summer, and
- Heavy with thunder’s rattapallax,
- That the man who erected this cabin, planted
- This field, and tended it awhile,
- Knew not the quirks of imagery,
- That the hours of his indolent, arid days,
- Grotesque with this nosing in banks,
- This somnolence and rattapallax,
- Seemed to suckle themselves on his arid being,
- As the swine-like rivers suckled themselves
- While they went seaward to the sea-mouths.
Harmonium. New York: A. A. Knopf, 1923.
“Rattapallax” was Wallace Stevens’ onomatopoetic word for the sound of thunder.
About the Poet
Wallace Stevens (1879-1955), US poet and attorney. Though now considered one of the major American poets of the 20th century, he did not receive widespread recognition until the publication of his Collected Poems, just a year before his death.
Perhaps more than any other modern poet, Stevens was concerned with the transformative power of the imagination. [DES-6/03]